While they’re not often talked about, approximately 100,000 ostomy surgeries are performed annually in the United States [Source 1]. Carol Pomper never would have expected to be among this number in 2021 when she planned a road trip to visit friends in southwest Colorado and stay in locations across the United States along the way.
Her first stop was visiting West Virginia to see her great niece's dance concert before she left for college. However, when she arrived in West Virginia, her right foot and ankle started swelling. After calling her primary care provider and being prescribed an antibiotic, she continued her cross-country trip. By the time she reached Kansas, Carol was experiencing more swelling, and she ended up in a clinic where she was prescribed a different antibiotic and Prednisone.
Arriving in southwest Colorado with her road trip complete, she now had a swollen right knee in addition to her foot and ankle. After seeing an orthopedic doctor, she was diagnosed with pseudo gout, and her areas of swelling were drained.
When Carol returned to Virginia, her left knee was swollen and there was also a pus type swelling on her right arm. Losing 40 pounds and taking multiple antibiotics, Carol sought relief from the growing inflammation in her body and was admitted to Centra Lynchburg General Hospital in September 2021. After two, separate one month stays, the infectious disease team was finally able to pinpoint the antibiotic that worked to kill the bacteria that was attacking her colon, and she had a temporary ileostomy as part of her treatment.
In September 2021, Kim Kennedy, NP and her team of Wound Care Specialists at came into Carol’s life to help her adjust to having an ostomy appliance. Carol described the adjust as a depressing and frustrating time and went on to say, “if it wasn't for Kim and her team and their upbeat, positive attitudes, I am not sure I would have gotten through it all.”
Carol shared that it has made such a difference in her life being well-supported by the Ostomy Nurses and that it was encouraging to also hear Kim's own story of her experiences with ostomies. She did not have to feel alone because her provider could fully empathize with what she was experiencing.
At this time, Carol has completed the first of a two-part takedown process to have her ileostomy removed. She shared, “individuals who are in a situation similar to mine have to make their own decision in regard to whether a takedown is the right decision, but I received exceptional care and support, was discharged after two and a half days and am feeling good. I cannot thank enough the doctors, nurses, technicians, physical therapists, athletic trainer, family and friends who got me through, and continue to support me on my ostomy journey.”